Finchley Road is a 7 km (4.3 mi) Inner London main road. Its southern half, in which it gives its name to the centre-west part of Hampstead — having two current railway stations including the name Finchley Road — is designated arterial and is of double standard road width or greater. The road is one Central London's main radial roads — connecting it to parts of, and two larger radial roads of, North London. A broader spur as a modern successor, Hendon Way, from the middle diverges to Brent Cross, once considered the south of Hendon, in North London where the M1 motorway starts.
Originally named Finchley New Road, it was built as a turnpike to provide a by-pass to the hillier route north from London through the village of Hampstead (which lay in the east of that parish). That route (now the route Haverstock Hill, Rosslyn Hill and North End Road) had two steep hills either side of Hampstead Village and was difficult for horses with carriages to negotiate when muddy. The Finchley Road Act was passed in 1826 and the new turnpike road was completed in 1835.
This coincided with the Inner and Outer Circle to Regent's Park to the south. It started from what was then called the 'New Road' (now Euston Road, Marylebone Road - the first London bypass) and ran north. When the road 7 kilometres later crosses the boundary of Finchley, as today, its name thus becomes Regents Park Road (after the reverse destination). In the heart of what rapidly became Finchley Central it became Ballards Lane and joined the Great North Road in an inverted-V shaped junction south of Whetstone.
Today the route follows the A41 which becomes Finchley Road at St. John's Wood tube station. It goes north through Swiss Cottage, then turns slightly north west, forming the border between Hampstead and West Hampstead and then turns north again at Child's Hill. The A41 diverges westward and Finchley Road becomes the A598. It continues past Golders Green Underground station, through Temple Fortune to the North Circular Road, crossing it at Henlys Corner.
The A598 continues north of the North Circular Road into Finchley, but changes its name to Regents Park Road. It remains a heavily used route in and out of London. The most commercial part of the road is between Swiss Cottage Underground station and the O2 Centre.
- Stagecoaches, first omnibuses and shelved tramway proposal
In 1856 as many as ten stagecoaches a day ran along Finchley Road, serving Swiss Cottage, where the Atlas Line, a business of these was begun about six years before.
Omnibuses reached the area north of Swiss Cottage by way of Finchley Road as far as Finchley Road station before 1880. Later omnibuses were extended along Finchley Road to meet others from Edgware Road along West End Lane, continuing north to Childs Hill in Hendon. Motorbuses had replaced horse omnibuses by 1911.
Plans for an extensive network of tramways, along Adelaide and Finchley roads, were dropped after opposition from the council, ground landlords, and residents.
Stations close to the road
The Hampstead part of the road is served by Finchley Road Underground station and Finchley Road & Frognal railway station, 435 metres apart on the North London Line (London Overground). The road has as such become the colloquial name for the part of Hampstead between West Hampstead and Hampstead-on-the-Hill which is centred on Hampstead Underground station.
- Weinreb, Ben; Christopher Hibbert. The London Encyclopaedia. Julia Keay, John Keay (3rd ed.). Macmillan. p. 291. ISBN 978-1-4050-4924-5.
- T F T Baker, Diane K Bolton and Patricia E C Croot, 'Hampstead: Communications', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 9, Hampstead, Paddington, ed. C R Elrington (London, 1989), pp. 3-8. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol9/pp3-8 [accessed 4 May 2018].